Black Spring Page 50

A bunch of people approached the table to thank Lucifer or pay fealty or whatever it was they wanted to do. I took advantage of Lucifer’s distraction to escape before I was introduced to anyone. Nathaniel put his arm around me and hurried me toward the side door. Samiel and Jude followed.

Beezle wanted to stay behind and finish off any flan on the tables that had been untouched, but Nathaniel nixed that idea with a sharp look. My gargoyle came along with a grumble.

We had nearly made it to the door when Michael stepped in front of us. His power was almost overwhelming up close, a tangible thing that filled the air around him. I had the same feeling I’d had before, that there was something familiar about him. Maybe it was because his power infused the line of Agents? That would make sense. He’d used his own grace to disguise Evangeline’s children, the original Agents, so many centuries before.

“I do not believe we have met,” he said. His voice, too, seemed to occupy all the empty space around it. “I am Michael.”

“Madeline Black,” I said, reaching my hand toward him.

He looked at my hand impassively, but did not offer his own. “I know who you are. I said we have not met.”

“Okay,” I said, feeling impatient suddenly. I was tired and cranky and not in the mood to play games with an immortal. “What do you want?”

“To look upon the favored granddaughter of Lucifer,” Michael said. “I have long watched you from afar.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Your actions have been of great interest to many,” Michael said. “Particularly your actions of late. We always like to know when there is darkness loosed upon the world.”

I narrowed my eyes at him. “Well, aren’t we judgy. You want to worry about darkness? Why don’t you have a conversation with your old pal Lucifer? He’s forgotten more about evil than I’ll ever know.”

“Lucifer is not my concern. You are. You are an Agent,” Michael said.

“Not anymore,” I said.

“Whether you choose to exercise your privilege is irrelevant,” Michael said. “The line of Agents is my province, and I watch it closely.”

“Fine, keep watching,” I said. I did not like the implication that I was somehow the problem here, and I didn’t care for Michael’s attitude. “And do nothing about the real problems, like Lucifer and his brothers trying to take over everything in sight. Just leave that up to me. As usual.”

I stepped around Michael and stormed out of the room—at least, as quickly as a waddling pregnant woman can storm. I turned back after a moment to make sure everyone was following me, and saw Michael staring after us. He wasn’t looking at me, though. He was looking at Jude, who didn’t seem to notice the attention.

“Did you call the first archangel ‘judgy’?” Beezle asked.

“You were there. You have ears,” I said shortly. I pulled Jude close to me as we walked away. “Why is Michael staring at you?”

Jude appeared startled. He glanced back over his shoulder. “I don’t know.”

“Watch your back,” I said. “We have enough interest in our party as it is.”

“Says the woman who called Michael ‘judgy,’” Beezle said.

“There are a lot of people staying here,” I observed as we climbed the stairs. “Just how big is this place?”

“As big as Lucifer wishes it to be, I imagine,” Nathaniel said. “If there are insufficient guest rooms, he can always add more.”

“Why would he want so many of his enemies under his roof?” I said as we passed a hallway while climbing to the next level. A quick look that way showed me Focalor’s distinctive curved horns disappearing into one of the guest rooms.

“He is keeping them close so he can observe them,” Nathaniel said. “They are much less likely to conspire with one another while under his nose. Additionally, some of them will feel it is a great compliment that Lucifer has favored them thus.”

“I don’t know why anyone would think it’s a compliment,” I muttered. “It feels more like a prison sentence to me.”

Nathaniel and I carefully put the safe-from-the-shifter’s-magic spell over Samiel’s and Jude’s rooms. The two would be able to come and go as they pleased, but while they were asleep no hostile magic would be able to attack them.

Beezle chose to sleep in Samiel’s room. “There’s isn’t enough privacy with you two in there,” he said. “Besides, with the spell you won’t need me to check everyone who comes to the door. Just don’t go wandering around the mansion without me.”

After we sealed up our own room, Nathaniel and I changed and climbed into bed. I wanted to talk about what had happened that day, about my suspicions that Lucifer might be behind the shapeshifter attacks, but I was so exhausted I closed my eyes almost immediately.

I only opened them again when I heard a woman screaming right outside my door.


It was pitch-black in the room. Both Nathaniel and I sat up abruptly. He threw on a bathrobe over his pajama pants, which was all he wore.

“Stay here,” he said. I could see the angelic aura around him in the darkness, moving toward the door.

“You shouldn’t go out there, either,” I said, swinging my legs to the side of the bed and using the bedpost to help me stand. “It could be a trick from the shifter to draw us out.”

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